Archive for January, 2014

Colorado defendant is first to challenge expanded U.S. surveillance effort


An illustration picture shows the logo of the U.S. National Security Agency on the display of an iPhone in Berlin, June 7, 2013. REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

An illustration picture shows the logo of the U.S. National Security Agency on the display of an iPhone in Berlin, June 7, 2013.


A Colorado man accused of having links to an overseas militant group on Wednesday became the first defendant to challenge the constitutionality of a 2008 law authorizing expansion of warrantless surveillance by the U.S. government, lawyers said.

Jamshid Muhtorov, 37, who is originally from Uzbekistan and moved to suburban Denver in 2007, was indicted two years ago along with another man on charges of providing and attempting to provide material support to a group listed by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization.

Civil libertarians have questioned the constitutionality of the U.S. government’s 2008 amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that gave authority to the National Security Agency to gather information from phone and Internet providers in the United States when the people targeted are believed to be overseas.

Muhtorov’s case stands out in that debate, because last year he became the first defendant to have been formally notified by U.S. prosecutors that evidence against him had been gathered under the 2008 law. Now, he has become the first such defendant to challenge the constitutionality of the 2008 amendment to FISA, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement.

He is represented by public defenders, but ACLU attorneys assisted in the motion filed on Wednesday.

His attorneys contend in the filing that the 2008 amendment to FISA violates the U.S. Constitution because it permits the U.S. government to collect and access international communications of U.S. residents in bulk, without the issuance of warrants for targeted individuals.

His attorneys said in a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Denver that evidence gathered against Muhtorov under the National Security Agency’s surveillance program violated his constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.

“The surveillance of Jamshid Muhtorov … was unconstitutional and the fruits of that surveillance must be suppressed,” the motion said.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit by Amnesty International and others that challenged the 2008 expansion of FISA. The high court found the groups had no legal standing because they could not establish that they were under surveillance by the expanded law.


In another landmark development relating to U.S. surveillance, U.S. District Judge Sharon Coleman on Wednesday ordered the federal government to disclose to attorneys for Adel Daoud search warrant applications in his case that the government presented to a FISA court. Daoud is accused of trying to set off a car bomb in Chicago.

Coleman, in her ruling, acknowledged no court has ever allowed disclosure of FISA materials to defense attorneys since the law’s passage in 1978, but she wrote that in the Daoud case “the disclosure may be necessary.”

U.S. government surveillance has gained new prominence due to revelations from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden about the scope of U.S. data gathering. Snowden fled to Russia and is under investigation by the U.S. government.

Citing a gag order imposed by the judge in the Muhtorov case, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver said prosecutors could not comment on the filing by his attorneys.

Mark Silverstein, legal director for the ACLU of Colorado, said in a statement the government has insulated the 2008 expansion of FISA from judicial review by concealing from criminal defendants how the evidence against them was obtained.

“But the government will not be able to shield the statute from review in this case,” he said.

Muhtorov, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, was arrested in January 2012 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Prosecutors said he was planning to head overseas to fight with the Islamic Jihad Union, a Pakistan-based resistant group that opposes secular rule in Uzbekistan.

An FBI affidavit filed in the case said law enforcement monitored Muhtorov’s emails and telephone calls when his name surfaced after German authorities thwarted a plot by the IJU to blow up unidentified targets.

In one monitored phone call, Muhtorov told one of his daughters he would never see her again “but if she was a good Muslim girl he will see her in heaven,” the affidavit said.


Summary of Israeli Violations of International Law in 2013


The year 2013 witnessed over 20,000 severe violations against the occupied State of Palestine and its people, who have suffered a number of violent attacks and incursions at the hands of Israel, the occupying power. These violations include attacks by both Israeli authorities and settlers, along with home demolitions, arbitrary arrests and the ongoing construction of illegal settlements.

Since the resumption of negotiations at the end of July 2013, Israel has announced almost 6200 new settlement units, throughout the occupied State of Palestine.

Please find below a Media Brief prepared by the NSU summarizing Israel’s violations of International Law during 2013, with a particular focus on violations committed since the beginning of negotiations, a process which is supposed to lead to a just and lasting peace.


Summary of Israeli Violations of International Law in 2013


Settlement Announcement & Tenders (July 31 – December 2013)


Total number of settlement units announced (July 31 – December 2013)= 6169

The NSA Is Spying On Everything



The NSA’s spying on everyone’s metadata can tell them just about everything about us … and it violates our Constitutional right to freedom of association.

But people are getting distracted from the big picture by focusing on metadata.

As security expert Bruce Schneier wrote yesterday:

What frustrates me about all of this — [the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board] report, the president’s speech, and so many other things — is that they focus on the bulk collection of cell phone call records. There’s so much more bulk collection going on — phone calls, e-mails, address books, buddy lists, text messages, cell phone location data, financial documents, calendars, [smartphone apps] etc. — and we really need legislation and court opinions on it all. But because cell phone call records were the first disclosure, they’re what gets the attention.

Indeed, Schneier confirmed last October what we’ve been saying for years … don’t get too distracted by the details, because the government is spying on everything:

Honestly, I think the details matter less and less. We have to assume that the NSA has EVERYONE who uses electronic communications under CONSTANT surveillance. New details about hows and whys will continue to emerge …but the big picture will remain the same.

He’s right.

As just one example, there is substantial evidence from top NSA and FBI whistleblowers that the government is recording the content of our calls and emails … word-for-word.

So what should we make of the government’s denials that it records content?

Given that the government has been caught lying about spying again and again, I’m not sure how much weight we should give to such denials.

NSA whistleblower Russ Tice notes:

They’re collecting content … word-for-word.***

You can’t trust these people. They lie, and they lie a lot.


Editorial                                                                21. January. 2014




The world is overpopulated.  As of early 2014, there are over an estimated 7.3 billion people on Earth.  Most people who go about their daily lives can see the increase in cars, people,
houses, pollution and chaos in their surrounding environment, yet few comprehend the sheer
magnitude of the global crisis we all  now face.

If people lived green, sustainable lifestyles, the planet could probably handle between 2-3
billion maximum.  As it is now, the carrying capacity of the planet has been breached by an
estimated 3-fold.  In strict biological terms, human civilization is in classic overshoot.

More and more people, of course, translates into increased resource use and pollution,
congestion, urban sprawl, a decimation of the natural environment and a sharpened deterioration of the quality of human life. 

In global climatic terms, we have now reached (and breached) the critical stage of runaway global climate change.  We are now “locked-in” to a 5-10 fahrenheit degree increase in global mean temperature  by 2100- even if all burning of fossil fuels ceased today.

Rapidly dwindling supplies of finite fresh water will add to the severity of the catastrophe we are
now facing, as we begin to witness the rapid depletion of groundwater and the desertification of
large swaths of land worldwide, due primarily to Global Warming.

Billions of people will increasingly become more desperate in their search for food and fresh water in the years to come as megacities (populations of more than 10 million) and other urban and rural areas continue to expand.

Truly, it is high time to implement China’s “one child per family” policy worldwide.  The projected increase of 9-10 billion people by 2050 cannot be sustained and will wreck what’s left of our planet’s fragile ecology.

Already, more than 1/2 of the world’s population (3.5 billion as of 2014) live at, near or below poverty and adequate nutrition levels.

Depopulation and eugenics campaigns designed to purposely kill off a large percentage of the planet’s population have already been instituted by the global elite.  These include the poisoning of our food, air and water with GMO (genetically modified) food, fluoride in our water and widespread radiation releases in the developed world (re: Fukushima).  In the developing world, this has translated into purposely unsustainable World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organization development policies designed to kill off a large portion of the Third World population with hunger, starvation, disease and malnutrition.

What it all comes down to is people’s worldview and value system, particularly in the area of consumption, reproduction and care and compassion for other sentient life forms on Earth.

People must learn NOT to have children or limit their child bearing to one child per family only (until the global population rate can be stabilized and reduced to sustainable levels).  It means NOT participating in an over-consumptive economy and lifestyle that exploits the world’s poor and destroys the global environment.  That means no more gas guzzling trucks and SUV’s, no more meat-eating, extravagant lifestyles or participation in a lemming-like culture that blindly submits to authority and remains brainwashed by the corporate
global media.  If people continue in their arrogant, decadent, irresponsible, selfish, unsustainable and wasteful ways, simply put, they DESERVE to DIE, either at the hands of the global elite with their depopulation death campaigns or by  Mother Nature’s ruthless ways of re-balancing the global ecology ( with hurricanes, drought, famine, floods, pestilence
desertification etc…)

Willingly or per force’, human civilization WILL change its reproductive ways.  To ease the Great Transition to a sustainable, green world society and help bring down global population levels, people must learn to take matters of survival into their own hands- and THAT means completely separating oneself and one’s family from the current  dominant culture of death, deception and destruction.  We all need to work to create a new system within the shell
of the old that cares, nurtures and takes responsibility for our future, as well as protects the global environment from which we all draw sustenance.


Drew Cathart
Big Sur, California

US Government Oversight Panel Calls NSA Spying Illegal

‘End It’: Govt Oversight Panel Calls NSA Spying Illegal

Strongest-yet rebuke from within U.S. government; only Bush-era lawyers dissent

– Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a federal panel, at a workshop about surveillance held in a Washington hotel last summer. (Photo: Christopher Gregory/The New York Times)The National Security Agency’s program to bulk collect phone data breaks the law, violates civil liberties, does not make Americans safer, and should be shut down, according to the federal government’s own watchdog.

In a 238-page report obtained by the New York Times and Washington Post, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which was created by Congress in 2007, issued the strongest rebuke of NSA spying yet from within the U.S. government.

The panel’s decision, reported Thursday, takes direct aim at the legal argument cited to justify the mass phone data spying: Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

The program “lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value,” reads the report, according to the New York Times.

“As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.”

The panel also directly challenges the argument that spying is necessary to keep Americans safe from “terrorist” attacks—a justification echoed by intelligence circles and President Obama. The report states that it could find “no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.”

“We believe that in only one instance over the past seven years has the program arguably contributed to the identification of an unknown terrorism suspect,” the report states. “Even in that case, the suspect was not involved in planning a terrorist attack and there is reason to believe that the FBI may have discovered him without the contribution of the NSA’s program,” it found.

The ruling from the five person panel was not unanimous, with two members—who were both lawyers in the George W Bush-era Justice Department—dissenting.

Coming on the heals of Obama’s widely criticized speech on NSA ‘reforms,’ the report amounts to a strong condemnation of the president’s policies and is likely to bolster efforts to defend civil liberties against government spying.

“We welcome the board’s report, and we agree with is principal conclusions. The NSA’s call-records dragnet is illegal and ineffective and presents a serious threat to civil liberties,” said American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer. “The report should spur immediate action by both the administration and Congress.”

Tag Cloud